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Falcons slap payback on Cubs
If the home opener was any indicator, there may not be a fastpitch team in the state that has what it takes to beat South Whidbey.
Avenging their only regular-season loss from last year, the Falcon girls edged Sedro-Woolley 2-1 Monday in a game that is likely to be the most competitive South Whidbey will see before the state tournament in May.
The game pitted two of the best teams in the state against one another in a battle of power pitching and all-or-nothing hitting. Coming off their runner-up finish in the 2A state tournament last spring, the Falcons chose to start their home season by going for payback against the Cubs, who placed third in the 3A tournament in 2002 after handing South Whidbey a 4-3 loss earlier in the season.
The Falcons opened the scoring in the second inning with a diverse mix of hitting. Senior Mary Murphy led the inning off with with a hard hit double against Cubs ace Jessica Crosby, then moved to third base courtesy of an Ashley Lopez bunt. She then came home to score on a two-out Shannon Brown double.
The lead would hold until the sixth inning as sophomore Falcon pitcher Christie Robinson threw both smoke and threw her way out of trouble to keep the Cubs hitters from doing much damage. Her biggest test came in the top of the third when, with the bases loaded and one out, she struck out a Cubs batter then forced an infield bloop that quickly went to first baseman Brown to end the inning.
During the inning, sophomore catcher Carolann Lubach also helped keep Sedro-Woolley scoreless, controlling a wild pitch to hold a runner on third.
Robinson got help later in the game from Val Mock, who came off the disabled list for the game to make two consecutive right field catches in the fifth inning to keep the Cubs off the basepaths that inning.
Eventually the Cubs' hitting did have some success against Robinson. In the sixth, Sedro right fielder Jessica Francis sent a baserunner home from first base when she slammed a triple off Robinson.
But in the bottom of the inning, South Whidbey's bats came alive again to take the edge back. This time, Lopez gave the Falcons a leadoff double. She advanced to third on a Shannon Brown sacrifice fly, then came home with the winning run on a Jenny Murphy double to right field.
The Falcons put the game away in the seventh with defense. Jenny Murphy sent the Cubs' leadoff hitter back to the dugout with a diving catch. Shannon Brown followed by grabbing a one-hopper for the put out a first. Sedro's third batter to the plate then slapped a liner to Bronwyn Russell at second, a liner Russell and Brown quickly converted to an out.
For the game, the Falcons had the edge in hitting with six compared to the Cubs' four. South Whidbey's hits came from Mary Murphy, Lopez, Russell, Brown and Lubach, who was 2-for-2 with a double that just missed going over the outfield fence.
Defensively, both teams finished with one error apiece. The Falcons are now 2-0 on the season.
Falcon coach Todd Lubach said he was pleased with his team's performance in the game, especially since the win came against a team that has some of the best hitters and pitchers in the state.
Next up for the Falcons is a home game against 3A Burlington-Edison Thursday. The game starts at 3:45 p.m. at South Whidbey High School.